190521 Prasad
Venkatesh Prasad. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Indian pace trio of Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the ICC World Cup will have their task cut out as it may not be easy for them on increasingly batsman-friendly pitches in England, according to Venkatesh Prasad, former Indian bowling coach and a key member of the 1999 World Cup squad — the last time the showpiece was played in England.

Looking ahead at India’s chances, Prasad struck a pragmatic note when he said the team should not depend only Virat Kohli for the runs. “Our batsmen should try to get 300-plus runs against all the opposition as the job will not be easy for the bowlers with two new balls — which reduces the possibility of reverse swing.”

Speaking to Gulf News over phone from India, Prasad, however, pinned a lot of hopes on the trio — calling them a “complete package” that the rival teams should be wary of.

“It’s not for nothing that the trio is being hailed as a brilliant line-up. They have the speed, movement and perfect presentation of the seam — so essential in gaining movement off the wicket,” said Prasad, who hunted in pairs with Javagal Srinath in all formats from mid-Nineties to the early part of this millennium.

Prasad said the three bowlers have enough experience to make the best use of conditions and felt that Kumar — who is a bowler in Prasad’s mould who relies more on movement — is canny enough to make up for his lack of pace. “See, both Shami and Bumrah have the pace but Bhuvi is an extremely clever bowler, who relies on variety,” Prasad observed.

The ‘99 World Cup was not particularly a memorable one for Mohammad Azharuddin’s men as they failed to cross the Super Eight stage, but ‘Venky’ had his dream match against Pakistan with dream figures of 9.3-2-27-5, with his victims reading like a Who’s Who of the Pakistan batting line-up: Saeed Anwar, Salim Malek, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mo’en Khan and Wasim Akram. When reminded of his Player of the Match performance, Prasad said: “Yes, it was certainly a memorable match for me as it was not easy to defend a total of 227 against such a batting line-up.”

Prasad is also concerned about the fitness levels of the Indian squad and any potential breakdown — as they have come out of a demanding tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL) under such hot and humid conditions. “Yes injuries and fatigue factor may play a role in our campaign as we have played in a wrong format in the IPL for such a long time. Management of injuries will be very crucial,” he felt.

Despite having peddled his wares alongside a generation of greats like Akram, Waqar Younis, Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne, Prasad does not buy the fact that the quality of bowlers have deteriorated in recent times. “It is the approach of the batsmen which has changed, who are coming up with more innovative shots which was unthinkable in the past,” he added.